In 1989, a democratic government in Czechoslovakia was established, and in 1990, the country was renamed the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. In July of that year, Slovakia declared sovereignty, and an agreement was quickly reached to dissolve the Czech and Slovak union. On January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In Yugoslavia, the result of 1989 was not the creation of progressive, Western-oriented reform regimes (except in Slovenia) but instead the revival of regimes (often led by former Communists) that were old-fashioned in the sense that they pursued traditional nationalist agendas, often at the cost of suppressing democratic practices and human rights.
Why then did the first case end up in an amicable ( velvet') divorce while the other resulted in ethnic warfare where millions were killed by ethnic cleansing-what was the determining factor that made the two Soviet satellites find themselves at such different places? In my essay, I would like to argue that nationalism was the determining factor between the two. In the case of Czechoslovakia, nationalism was never a huge issue, as its minorities were cleansed at an earlier stage leaving both the Czechs and Slovaks in majority in their own territory. It was instead the memory of capitalism and liberal democracy still fresh in their minds, that caused the Czechs and Slovaks to work together in order to attain their freedom from their communist oppressors and once that goal was attained, an amicable separation seemed to be the obvious next course of action. In the example of Yugoslavia, nationalism goals took precedence to democratic ones and before any sort of liberal democracy could be consolidated, territories had to be defined and nation states had to be created. However such a task was not going to be so clear cut for Yugoslavia as the ethnic composition was not evenly dispersed, they had no memory of capitalism and in the 1960's unlike the Czechoslovakians they did not protest for democracy, but rather for territorial/nation state autonomy.